Saturday, May 14, 2011

All This Useless Beauty

Above, infrared camera, red for blue channel swap. This blog title comes from an Elvis Costello song I heard as I really got into him back in the late 1990’s. The collection of songs found on Extreme Honey show an astonishing range of Mr. Costello’s musical genius. Prose like lyrics stick in my head, like this bit from Hurry Down Doomsday:

Any day now a giant insect mutation will swoop down and devour the white man’s burden starting out with all of the sensitive ones.

I recall the SNL appearance where he was bearded and wearing sunglasses. That episode was from exactly 20 years ago, May 18, 1991. (I should be used to that kind of coincidence by now.) The guy seems to never stop. I’ve caught glimpses of the wonderful performance program Spectacle he hosts on the Sundance channel. I should get ahold of the DVD package available and catch up; Spectacle: Season 1, also available for rent at Netflix. Soon Season 2 will be released.

When I got ahold of the Ryko remasters of the early albums, they contained many acoustic demos. What emerged clearly was that Costello was deeply rooted in the same songwriting tradition that I admire.

It’s at times such as this she’d be tempted to spit If she wasn’t so ladylike.
She imagines how she might have lived back when legends and history collide.
So she looks to her prince finding he’s so charmingly slumped at her side.
Those days are recalled on the gallery wall and she’s waiting for passion or humour to strike.

What shall we do, what shall we do with all this useless beauty? All this useless beauty.

Find the mp3 here.

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